Arkansas is an interesting state with a diverse landscape ranging from mountains to low-lands. The county jails scattered across the state are equally diverse and if you know somebody "doing time" in Arkansas you are probably curious about what to expect.

The two most populous county jails in Arkansas are Pulaski County Jail (home of Little Rock) and Benton County Jail (home of Bentonville, also known as the world headquarters of Walmart).

Incarceration rates in Arkansas
Arkansas' incarceration rates are right at the national average with just over 500 people incarcerated at any given time for every 100,000 residents. This means that with a population of about 3M as of the 2010 census there are usually around 15,000 inmates in either state or county custody on average.

Incarcerating inmates is never cheap - it represents a significant burden on the government (and by extension you, the taxpayer). Law enforcement's end goal, however, is to create a safe environment where the citizens don't have to worry about constant threats to their bodies or property.

County jail vs. prison
The vast majority of citizens in the United States will never serve time behind bars. As a result most people learn about the legal system through what they see on television. The scenes depicted on television are usually dramatized events that might happen in prison. County jails are much, much different.

It is common to see violence in prison on TV. Violence does happen in county jails but it is not very common. Most people serving time in county jail are incarcerated for less than a year (and frequently just a few days), but fighting can significantly increase the length of a sentence. It can even lead to additional charges that might land a person in prison.

If you know somebody heading to county jail in Arkansas you can be comforted knowing that they are not likely to be rubbing shoulders with hardened criminals. Many people who find themselves in county are first-time offenders. Of course more serious inmates may be housed there, especially if they are facing trial, but inmates who are seen as a serious risk to other inmates are usually separated from general population.

Arkansas Jails